Te Whare Tapere o Manukura win Youth Award. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
The contribution of a Wairarapa community-based kapa haka group has been recognised by Masterton District Council with the group winning a prestigious youth award.
Nominated by group member Shari Taylor, the award acknowledged the significant role the group had made in using kapa haka as the main tool to gain knowledge and skills in te reo Maori me ona tikanga [Maori language and culture].
“Te Whare Tapere o Manukura” means the home of leaders, Taylor said.
“It is based around Maori performing arts.”
The group was formed in Wairarapa in 2016, with most of its members based in Masterton.
They ranged in ages from 14 to 23.
Some members were at school and some were teachers.
Since it started, the group had established itself as a leading exponent of Maori performing arts in the region, often called upon to give performances and provide input at a range of events.
Taylor said that in 2016, the group went to Rarotonga and reconnected with their whakapapa [history, lineage, and heritage].
“They did a school exchange and were a travelling group of entertainers. By learning while they were there, they were able to bring back information and teach other children who were also part of that heritage.
“Through performance, that’s how they told those stories.
“Te Whare Tapere o Manukura has been about building the knowledge.”
The group regularly performs across the region and gets about two requests a week.
“This will be the group that gives up their time and comes together to practise after school so they can put on performances for the community.
“They are on the go quite a bit.”
The 15 group members attended weekly classes voluntarily.
“When we tell our stories, we tell them through singing, hand and feet actions and through poi. We are taking everybody on a journey,” Taylor said.
“It’s not just to entertain, but to fill people’s hearts with a story and a feeling.”
The group also helped teach students resilience and a sense of identity.
“Once they begin to understand who they are and what is in their heritage, they become stronger people.”
“It’s finding all the bits of the puzzle and putting it together,” she said.
Taylor said the whole group attended the award ceremony and were very happy when they won.
“On the night, we were nervous, but once we had received the award, we were so happy.
“We all felt really good and humbled at the same time, that we were chosen to be recipients.”
The group had also enjoyed seeing other youth award recipients get their awards and learn about their community work.
Te Whare Tapere o Manukura was recognised by MDC for turning ancestral stories and knowledge into performance, attending writers retreats to write poetry and waiata about the revitalisation of te reo and participating in wananga to upskill themselves and others.
They had shown dedication to learning about local history and the whakapapa of local pa and contributed within the community by performing their waiata and encouraging knowledge of Maori culture.
They had also won “Te Tapuwaetahi o Rangitane” iwi award in 2019 and planned and aspired to develop a kapa haka academy.